Morning commute may be impacted by lane closures
The recent mandatory detours along Route 26 are almost over, as the current phase of the project is right on schedule to reopen the road by Tuesday, March 31.
Vehicles have followed a 24/7 detour through Millville and Ocean View since Jan. 5. Contractor George & Lynch closed the road in two spots (where it crosses water) to replace bridge culverts next to Millville Town Hall and Lord Baltimore Elementary School.
“Everything is moving along. The bridge in Millville, as of today, is ready to paved,” said Project Engineer Ken Cimino on Tuesday. The bridge in Ocean View, he said, “should be ready for paving early next week. We will be open by March 31.”
He denied rumors that the project is behind schedule, even with a snowy winter.
Some daily commuters have almost gotten used to the detour, while newcomers have gotten turned around, calculating whether their destination was “in or out” of the detour zone. Business owners are just counting down the time until the detour ends.
But, overall, the culverts held “No surprises. Everything just went along like clockwork,” Cimino said. “Once they got the sheet piling in, it was just like Legos” to install the pre-cast materials.
The work is part of the Delaware Department of Transportation’s 2.5-year road improvement project that will add a center turn lane and other improvements on Route 26 from Clarksville to Bethany Beach.
Morning lane closures are allowed
Although Route 26 will be fully accessible, lane closures have been extended into the morning commute.
As of March 16, lane closures are allowed 24 hours per day. For the next two months, DelDOT gave the project permission to close lanes Monday to Friday from 6 to 9 a.m.
Although flaggers could be directing traffic daily, currently George & Lynch is only closing lanes on weekdays, about 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“We are concentrating the work,” said Cimino, “to allow the contractor to work a little more continuously.”
Crews can get an early start each day, without having to backfill the entire section just for three hours of traffic.
Cimino said lanes of traffic that include school buses may get preferential treatment.
The traffic schedule will change again on May 15. During the summer season, DelDOT must maintain two lanes of traffic most of the time (except on weeknights).
Drivers “still might want to consider using the detour routes now that they’re familiar with them, especially while we’re out there in the mornings,” Cimino said.
Currently, flaggers allow alternating lanes of traffic through the work zone. Motorists should still anticipate lane closures on areas of Route 26:
• Between Irons Lane and Route 17 (installation of sanitary sewer force mains)
• Between Old Mill Road and Dukes Drive (installation of new drainage pipe/inlets)
• Between Woodland Avenue and West Avenue (test pit excavation for underground utility relocations)
• Between Old School Lane and Grants Avenue (installation of new drainage pipe/inlets).
“This push is to get out of the business district, so the businesses don’t have the same hardship this summer that they had last summer,” he said. “We’re trying to be more business-friendly.”
Many businesses, big and small, experienced lower sales in the past few months, he said. As public outreach coordinator, Cimino still meets with business owners and residents at their request. He’s heard plenty of frustration, he said, but aims to give people the correct information.
“I think everybody is just [thinking], ‘We’re gonna get through it, and you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.’”
This summer, he also plans to give weekly updates to local Realtors, “so it’s easier for our vacationers to get to Ocean View and Millville.”
Cimino personally responds to all questions and complaints regarding Route 26 construction. Residents and businesses can call (302) 616-2621 in Ocean View or join his weekly email list by contacting Kenneth.Cimino@aecom.com.